OPINION: Is President Duterte in charge?

Raissa Robles

Posted at Apr 11 2019 11:05 PM

At 7 in the evening of Thursday, I am sitting in the dark being stung by mosquitoes.

There is no electricity and no water.

This reminds me so much of the dying days of dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law, when electric power went on and off and the trickle in the taps went dry for most of the day. I actually had to go to a deep well in the neighborhood to haul water.

Nowadays, there is no deep well near my home from which to draw water. I just have to rely on the very unpredictable water service interruptions of Manila Water. The water comes on around 6 a.m. or 7 a.m., or not. If it does, the taps suddenly go dry mid-morning, then resume around lunchtime, or sometimes not. Then around 3 or 4 p.m., the taps only make gurgling sounds.

We are looking at this kind of interrupted water service until June this year or longer.

As for power interruptions, we have no idea what is happening. I heard Department of Energy official Wimpy Fuentebella say on ANC that the power outage was caused by a “big power plant” suddenly going offline.

He does not name which “big power plant this is” nor does the reporter ask.

Yesterday, I heard technical expert Alan Ortiz give a warning on ANC TV news that we are soon going to possibly face brownouts if no power project comes onstream soon. Ortiz disclosed that since 2016, when Mayor Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency, no power project had been approved by the Department of Energy under his administration.

One of the most basic functions of government is to see to it that basic services like water and power run smoothly like clockwork. It is the government’s job to anticipate problems in these areas and to work out solutions so that problems don’t happen. If problems happen – and not because of some natural calamity – then the government is failing at its job.

We don’t know yet the full story behind Metro Manila’s water crisis. Suffice it to say, no heads have rolled in the MWSS because of it. Duterte has met with MWSS and Manila Water officials. But he has not cursed any of them.

Instead, he seems obsessed talking about his penis and being a manly man.

He does not seem to be all that bothered with the water and power crisis disrupting the lives of nearly 13 million Metro Manila residents. He has spewed no cuss words about these. Even though over 6 million of these suffering residents are registered voters.

And if the water and power crisis are not enough, there is another crisis, this time on the money front.

Yesterday, I went to BPI bank to withdraw from my account and found I could not. BPI had “upgraded” its system last Friday and it crashed. That was six days ago. Today, they still could not tell when the system would be online.

If I wanted to withdraw some money from my bank account, I was told, I had to go to the bank branch where I had opened the account and plead with the manager to let me withdraw from my account even if the system was down.

Tomorrow, Friday, the country’s biggest bank BDO is also going to “upgrade” its system. Will its system also crash?

Hello, Duterte government, does anybody care that systems are failing or getting disrupted?

I was told by a former cabinet official that during cabinet meetings, Duterte’s full attention becomes focused only when the topic is the drug war. Beyond that, his cabinet secretaries are pretty much left to themselves to do what they please.

The Filipinos are a very forgiving people, especially when it comes to lousy services. Our attitude is usually – hayaan mo na. Wala naman tayong magagawa. Wala namang mangyayari.

Which is why service providers of power, water, internet, banks, etc have it easy giving minimal service to customers. A 2010 survey found that Filipinos were the most forgiving of bad customer service

When it comes to power and water which are monopolies, however, Filipinos have to rely on the government to lean on these monopolies to improve bad service.

But what if the government does not seem to care?

Well, that’s what elections are for. To make government officials care.

Is the Duterte government making sure Filipinos get good service from private and public enterprises?

You can reply through your vote in the May elections, especially in the Senate race.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.